x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Executive Affairs Authority to count GP benefits

Abu Dhabi hopes event will bring in millions of dollars and the authority will make a detailed study of economic benefits from the grand prix.

Giancarlo Fisichella, a Formula One driver for Ferrari, drives in front of the Yas Hotel last year.
Giancarlo Fisichella, a Formula One driver for Ferrari, drives in front of the Yas Hotel last year.

A detailed study is to be conducted into the economic benefits of this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by the capital's Executive Affairs Authority.

A similar assessment carried out for the Bahrain Formula One event in 2008 revealed it generated US$560 million (Dh2.05 billion) for the country's economy.

Hoteliers in Abu Dhabi are looking forward to reaping the benefits, with a 50,000-strong crowd expected to attend the GP at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend. And if the championship goes down to the wire, there will be even more international focus on the event.

"We are expecting a greater impact from this year's event," said Lawrence Franklin, the director of strategy and policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). Mr Franklin said the ADTA's focused advertising and marketing was likely to help boost returns.

The hotels on Yas Island are already fully booked for the race weekend but hoteliers are hoping a high occupancy rate will continue after the race.

"It's a different ball game now," said Torbjorn Bodin, the general manager of the Radisson Blu and the Park Inn hotels on Yas Island. "We're part of a destination. Last year we were just a couple of hotels attached to a racetrack."

Mr Bodin said just over a year ago that Abu Dhabi residents' awareness of Yas Island was limited.

"Now everybody knows where Yas Island is," he said. "There's much more demand this year.

"A lot more people are coming here to enjoy our restaurants. The golf course is open, the Ferrari theme park is open."

Several hotels on Yas Island have reported full houses for the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC), hoteliers said.

"We expect to have more days of full occupancy," said Patrick Martinez, the general manager of the Yas Island Rotana and the Centro hotels.

"We are expecting to run full house for the Yas Island show weekends. Definitely there is a better outlook with all the activities organised and the theme park. We're likely to see a much better flow of leisure travellers."

The hotels have also benefited from the opening last month of a tunnel connecting Al Raha Beach to Yas Island, providing easier access.

Stephen Banks, the director of sales and marketing at Aldar Hotels and Hospitality, which manages the five-star Yas Hotel, said the property was already fully booked for the Jonas Brothers concert, to be held on Yas Island the weekend after the Grand Prix.

The hotel, which straddles the racetrack, has 499 rooms.

rbundhun@thenational.ae